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Confucius Institute, business college developing management course in China

Approximately two months ago, Terrill Martin (associate director for business development for the Confucius Institute at WKU) and George Rasmussen (executive in residence the Department of Management in the Gordon Ford College of Business) began pitching the development of a study abroad Business Management class tapping into manufacturing organizations that have local companies within Kentucky and physical plants within China.

After much interest from local companies, the ball began rolling quickly.  Paperwork was submitted through Gordon Ford College of Business, Study Abroad and Office of International Programs, and a MGT 410 class was developed — China Business Management, “Experience Global Business Practices.”

From a field of interested companies and universities on short notice, the WKU groups contacted four companies and two universities within China and Taiwan interested in partnering with the program to be developed as early as June 2014 as part of the summer term.

Rasmussen, Martin and Dr. Wei-Ping Pan began the site visits for the impending class to determine the logistical path, accommodations, meals and overall planning both inside and outside of the Chinese operations.

Teachers from NCEPU's Business College met with George Rasmussen and Terrill Martin from WKU.

Teachers from NCEPU’s Business College met with WKU’s George Rasmussen and Terrill Martin.

Some of the most important learning opportunities of the class will be participating in local cultural learning experiences at the university level inside the classroom. Thus, it was only fitting that the first meeting took place on the campus of the Confucius Institute’s official partner, North China Electric Power University, with members from NCEPU’s Business College, who were fully supportive of this unique venture. Upon the students’ first three days, three business professors will teach the students (from a Chinese perspective) how businesses operate in China considering topics of operations management, supply chain management, governmental interaction, business code of ethics, human resource management and foreign trade concepts. This will give the potential students of the Study Abroad program a glimpse of some of the differences between practices in the U.S. and China.

George Rasmussen and Dr. Wei-Ping Pan met with Dr. Gan at Houghton Industries in Shanghai.

George Rasmussen and Dr. Wei-Ping Pan met with Dr. Yaodong Gan (right) at Houghton Industries in Shanghai.

The delegation took flight to Shanghai for the second meeting at Houghton Industries, headquartered in Pennsylvania. The company serves the metalworking, automotive and steel industries – and a variety of other markets – with the development, production and management of the highest quality specialty chemicals, oils and lubricants, and has revenue in excess of $1 billion worldwide. The groups discussed the opportunities for students who will learn about human resources, research and development, safety and manufacturing practices in China.

Source International's Don Salyers (third from left) met with WKU's Terrill Martin, Dr. Wei-Ping Pan and George Rasmussen.

Source International’s Don Salyers (third from left) met with WKU’s Terrill Martin, Dr. Wei-Ping Pan and George Rasmussen.

The third meeting took place in Xiamen, about 640 miles south of Shanghai. The WKU group met with the Director of Contract Management of Source International, which has its U.S. headquarters in Louisville. The company specializes in U.S. companies looking to outsource manufacturing, quality and logistics for a variety of products. The company manages numerous manufacturing facilities in China and is opening plants in India. Companies provide them with specifications, and they manage the entire manufacturing process. Interest in this program began with COO and Managing Director Jim Ullum, who was a member of a panel discussion at the Confucius Institute’s Chinese Business Etiquette Dinner in November 2011. The company is on-board and happy with the development of the program, which could lead to potential internship opportunities. Here the students will learn about outsources, logistics and supply chain management.

Zoeller Taiwan's Bill West (left) met with WKU's George Rasmussen, Dr. Wei-Ping Pan and Terrill Martin.

Zoeller Taiwan’s Bill West (left) met with WKU’s George Rasmussen, Dr. Wei-Ping Pan and Terrill Martin.

The fourth meeting took place in Taipei, Taiwan, with the president of Zoeller Taiwan Co. Ltd., which has its home office in Louisville. The company was founded in 1939 as a family-owned operation making various products, one of which was dependable column sump pumps. Zoeller Company is the oldest independently owned U.S. pump manufacturer, whose products are sold in more than 50 countries. The president of Zoeller Taiwan Co. Ltd. was excited about the partnership and the potential internship opportunities that could come from this collaboration.

The WKU group's fifth meeting took place at Fu-Jen Catholic University. From left: Dr. Wei-Ping Pan, George Rasmussen, Zhang Rongfang, Ruby Chang and Terrill Martin.

The WKU group met with representatives of Fu-Jen Catholic University. From left: Dr. Wei-Ping Pan, George Rasmussen, Zhang Rongfang, Ruby Chang and Terrill Martin.

The fifth meeting took place on the campus Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taipei City, Taiwan. The AACSB-accredited university that specializes in business management has agreed to host students who wish to enroll in the Study Abroad class. The school was eager to provide two professors who will teach the students (from a Chinese perspective) about how businesses operate in China considering topics of operations management, supply chain management, governmental interaction, business code of ethics, human resource management and foreign trade concepts. The hope is that by the time the students come to Fu-Jen University, they would have gained perspective and would have formulated specific questions related to the topics, as they would have visited the actual facilities. So, Fu-Jen Catholic University would reinforce the concepts learned from NCEPU.

The class will be one of a kind for WKU, Gordon Ford College of Business, Confucius Institute and the students who wish to participate. The class is “under construction,” but scheduled for the 2014 summer term.

Contact: George Rasmussen, (859) 816-2980; or Terrill Martin, (270) 792-9330.

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